Third person arrested in connection with OC Planned Parenthood firebombing attack

Authorities on Monday announced a third arrest in connection with the firebombing attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Orange County last year. 

Two suspects, 21-year-old Tibet Ergul of Irvine and 23-year-old Chance Brannon of San Juan Capistrano, were arrested shortly after the attack and were scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning, along with a third suspect who was arrested in Florida just last week. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 2 men arrested for allegedly firebombing OC Planned Parenthood clinic

According to authorities, 21-year-old active duty Marine Xavier Batten of Brooksville, Florida – was arrested Friday by special agents with the FBI. Batten made his initial appearance on Friday in United States District Court in the Middle District of Florida. He was ordered held without bond pending trial. Local authorities did not disclose details on Batten's transfer to California. 

Officials said all three suspects got to know each other through discussions on the internet and at this time there is "strong evidence" that the three men had an "animus towards women." 

The indictment returned on July 14 and unsealed Friday charges all three defendants with one count of conspiracy and one count of malicious destruction of property by fire and explosion. Additionally, Brannon and Ergul both are charged with one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device and one misdemeanor count of intentional damage to a reproductive health services facility, which is a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

According to the criminal complaint, Ergul and Brannon attacked the clinic by igniting and throwing a Molotov cocktail at the clinic entrance. Because of the fire, the clinic was forced to close the following morning and canceled more than two dozen appointments.  A second Molotov cocktail was also discovered during a search.

The charge of using an explosive or fire to damage real property affecting interstate commerce carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

No one was injured and first responders were able to prevent the clinic from being destroyed.

Security videos described in court documents show that two men wearing hooded sweatshirts and face masks approached the Planned Parenthood facility at approximately 1 a.m. the day of the attack, ignited a device, and threw the flaming device at the front door of the building. 

"The device landed against a southern wall next to the glass door and erupted into a fire, which spread up the wall and across the ceiling above the glass door," according to court documents.

The conspiracy and malicious destruction counts in the indictment each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The count of possession of an unregistered destructive device is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. 

The intentional damage to a reproductive health facility charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison.

City News Service contributed to this report.